Namadgi nationwide park: ‘A thriller, a relic, a vibrant pulse within the earth’ | Journey
Language group: Ngunnawal
Your country wants to talk to you.
It has to talk to you.
Living shelters are on the mountain slopes between the granite gates. Photo: Vicky Shukuroglou
In this valley you are only an hour away from the Bundestag of your country. But the political decisions here began 120,000 years ago. The evidence of culture is all about you as you walk through this national park – rock paintings, scar trees, stone arrangements, tools. It is so tempting to take a souvenir with you, but please stick to your hand. These specimens have yet to be fully examined and we need them to explain and defend our culture.
We need our cultural assets locally, not on your mantelpiece, just to be thrown out by your grandchildren when you die.
Go here and be amazed. It is a beautiful, wild landscape, immerse yourself in its history. This story will be on every corner. A dingo watches those who climb a rocky mountain. It looks on, ears pointed forward, and wonders. People keep climbing and he sits on a boulder to watch. He has a reason.
As soon as he’s seen, he jumps off the boulder, but his curiosity and need stop him. Visitors see him and marvel at his rich golden fur, intelligent eye, and need for entertainment. He sniffs, he plays, he suggests, he offers an injured foot.
There is an exchange of intimacy between two completely different creatures. A strange, beautiful and puzzling conversation with Australia.
However, as you drive through the countryside beyond the national park, you will be amazed at the intensity of modern agriculture. Thousands of sheep roam across barren paddocks, picking up dust, pounding the earth with their sharp hooves and stubbornly nibbling at every green stitch that is stupid enough to show itself.
The complex history of Namadgi and the surrounding area lies between the valleys and slopes that show up in tangles of listed wire, rocks in various formations, and trees that show signs of human interaction. Photographs: Vicky Shukuroglou
It is difficult to see how this type of land use can be sustained. We need sheep to eat, but how many do we need and at what cost for our soil? Smaller, better grazed flocks are suggested for this industry, and a man from that district, Charles Massy, has written a wonderful book on the subject, Call of the Reed Warbler. It comes highly recommended along with The Biggest Estate on Earth, written by Bill Gammage, another man in the district. Both offer new ways of looking at an ancient land and examine our history with curiosity rather than horror.
We are fortunate that Namadgi speaks for the country. And the country wants to talk to you. And she is.
Listen to the frog near the drain of the Ready Cut Hut, watch the kangaroo puzzling over the dewdrops from the shed roof, watch the swallows and hawks run across the swamp, mesmerized by the trickling water that flows after a course in between calmly looking for the rock and wooden ducks on the handrail of the bridge. And as you walk down the street in search of internet access, look away from the glow of your device and at your feet for a moment because here’s a real feat: the tools of a people who have ruled this land for 120,000 years. Current Research at Moyjil, Victoria shows that it was an aeon without thistles, foxes, sheep or barbed wire.
Look where the sun soaks and soaks her blood, where a stone woman seems to sit back. Does she die or live? Is it off the ground or off the ground?
Australian, this is your Namadgi, she is a mystery, a relic, a pulsating pulse on earth. In the frosty dawn, jewels of frozen dew on the barbed wire could be the pearls on the breast of a beautiful woman, the breast of your country. Your country.
This is your invitation to enter this sacred valley, slow your breath, let your mind rest, rest in the green of the valley and accept these secrets. It’s your country after all. It is your responsibility.
Indigenous cultural experiences, tours and organizations
Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve
Forty minutes south of Canberra, Tidbinbilla is on the edge of Namadgi National Park and also has important Aboriginal sites. Take a bush walk, spot wildlife, or have a barbecue. The visitor center provides information about the indigenous culture and history of the region.
Murumbung Yurung: Murra Cultural Tours
Explore the Gudgenby Valley in Namadgi with an Aboriginal ranger to learn about the area’s rock art and Ngunnawal culture.
In addition to various tours around Canberra, Dhawura offers a Namadgi National Park tour.
Traditional owners Aboriginal Corporation
0413 908 408
Other things to see and do
In Canberra, you can wander the Australian National Botanic Gardens or visit the many cultural institutions in the capital. In the Canberra area, you can visit a solar park in Royalla, the Christmas barn in Bredbo (one hour south of Canberra), the famous bakery in Nimmitabel (two hours drive south of Canberra) and the pub in Nimmitabel (now there is an experience) . In winter there are snow fields and in summer there are wildflowers in the same fields. This is a rich, rich country.
Namadgi National Park Visitor Center
This center, south of Tharwa, provides guides to Namadgi’s 100 miles of marked trails, including the Yankee Hat Rock Art Trail, as well as information on camping and cabin accommodation available in the park.
Note: At the time of publication, Namadgi National Park was partially closed due to the bush fire in the Ororral Valley in early 2020. Be sure to check its status before you visit.
• This is an edited excerpt from Loving Country by Bruce Pascoe and Vicky Shukuroglou, available now from Hardie Grant